How often you should: Basic chores and check-ups
From changing your sheets to testing your eye sight, here's how often you should be doing these household chores and health checks, according to expert advice
Examine your breasts
Some women have lumpier breasts around the time of their periods. So if the lumpiness comes and goes in both breasts with your menstrual cycle, there's no cause for concern.
"Some women have lumpier breasts around the time of their periods"
After the menopause, your breasts will normally feel softer and less lumpy.
If you notice anything that's unusual for you—such as a new lump or thickening, or a change in size, shape or feel—consult your GP.
Open your bowels
It varies! “Normal stool frequency” (to use the polite medical term) is between three per week and three per day, according to a Scandinavian study.
Again, what matters is what's normal for you—and factors such as diet, fluid intake, activity levels and age can make a difference.
If you've felt the urge but not been able to poo at least three times during the last week, you're likely to be constipated. Drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol and increase your fibre intake.
If these lifestyle changes don't help, speak to a pharmacist.
Apply sun cream
As well as wearing sun cream to protect yourself from the sun, you should wear clothing that covers your skin and seek out shade when possible
Every two hours. For maximum protection, the NHS says you should apply sunscreen according to the manufacturer's instructions at least half an hour before going outdoors, then once again just before you step out.
Sun, sweat and towel-drying can remove it from your skin, so reapply every couple of hours. You'll also need to reapply immediately after you've been in water (yes, even the “water-resistant” brands).
Daily, if you're trying to keep your weight in check. That's according to the University of Georgia, which found that stepping on the scales at the same time every day could help people avoid holiday weight gain.
Participants in the 14-week study managed to maintain or lose weight during and after the holiday season, while a control group gained weight.
"Stepping on the scales at the same time every day could help people avoid holiday weight gain"
The reason? Constant reminders of weight fluctuations motivate behavioural tweaks—such as exercising a little more or making healthier food choices—say the researchers.
If you're not watching your weight, it's still a good idea to hop on the scales once a month to keep tabs on any unintentional changes that could warrant further investigation.
Check social media
Keeping your use down to around 30 minutes, however, leads to significant reductions in loneliness, depression and anxiety, according to a 2018 study.
One of the reasons for this, say the researchers, is that Instagram in particular can give the false impression that everyone else is having a much better time than you are.
Brush your teeth
A quarter of Brits only brush their teeth once a day, according to the Oral Health Foundation
Twice a day. Yes, we know you've already been in the habit of brushing your teeth morning and night for longer than you care to remember.
But have you been doing it for long enough each time? To combat plaque and gum disease, dentists recommend you brush for about two minutes—using a fluoride toothpaste, of course.
Get your eyes tested
Your optometrist may also recommend that you have a test more often if you have diabetes, are over 40 years old and have a family history of glaucoma or if you're over 70.
Change your sheets
Once a week. After just a few days, bedsheets and pillowcases can accumulate significant amounts of dirt, dead skin cells, body oils, sweat and dust mites, warns the Sleep Foundation.
And if that doesn't send you bundling everything into the washing machine, what if we also mention that dust mites produce faecal matter?
A weekly wash should normally suffice—but you may want to change sheets more frequently if you suffer from asthma or allergies.
Get your blood pressure measured
Once every five years. That's if you're a healthy adult. If you're at increased risk of high blood pressure, though, you should ideally get checked out once a year.
Being overweight, eating too much salt, drinking excess alcohol and smoking are all risk factors.
"High blood pressure doesn't usually have any symptoms, so the only way to keep tabs on yours is to get it checked"
Remember, high blood pressure doesn't usually have any symptoms, so the only way to keep tabs on yours is to get it checked.
Wash your bath towels
Every three to five uses. Any towels that have been used to wipe up sweat or on skin complaints, such as eczema or fungal infections, should be washed more frequently, of course.
Damp towels become excellent breeding grounds for bacteria so do make sure you hang yours out to dry completely between uses.
Read more: How to maximise your GP visit
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter